So much has been said and written and said about these words in the context of Sanjay Dutt that more on the same may lead to indigestion or revulsion. However i have a few things to add. I do not want to talk of merits demerits of the case. All i want to say is that the words which form the title of this post apply to every person differently.
Pardon for a celebrity but none for a commoner.
Mercy for juveniles accused of the worst bestiality but none for under trials wrongly framed and incarcerated in jails.
Crime when a person murders with a motive but none when mass murderers get elected repeatedly.
Punishment and that too capital on statute, but used as a political tool by a state to counter opposition and deflect attention from pressing issues.
Who can pardon? President, Governor or really an executive on whose advise the latter act. Or should the persons affected by the acts of the criminal have a right to pardon. Can one allow both or either one of them to exercise this right? I certainly think not, otherwise the politicians will create more mischief than they already do. While victims will have a bias, giving them right to pardon can easily lead to anarchy. So judges will act according to the evidence and the blind fold lady signifies, blinding to all extraneous influences that can deflect their attention from the matters presented to them.
Mercy is tempered by the chance to reform and the assurance that the criminal has genuine remorse and his release does not endanger the lives of common citizens of the country. India needs to get capital punishment out of its statute book and become a state capable of real mercy and jails must become reform centers.
Crime by the state is far worse than that of the individual and most often an uneducated misguided indoctrinated person.
Punishment given by the rule of law is dictated by the evidence presented to it and the law itself, however the powers of Karma-phala seem to be the only ones that matter, at least for the believers as also the atheists who believe in truth and existence.
In an imperfect society and world we will continue to get imperfect verdicts and unequal applications of justice based on religion, gender, caste and class. So let us get on with life and leave the judges and the judged to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. And finally let the universal Consciousness to play out and influence individual consciousness as deemed fit.